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Automobile Industry

Entries in U.S. Energy Department’s Vehicle Technologies Program (1)

Thursday
Nov152012

Commercial Hybrid Vans Reach 20% Higher Fuel Savings Than Conventionals, Says Energy Report

As part of a multi-year research project to evaluate and improve alternative fuel technologies in the commercial sector, the U.S. Energy Department in cooperation with the United Parcel Service (UPS) just published a real-world performance study of the company’s hybrid electric delivery vans with impressive double-digit results.

UPS Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Photo courtesy of worktruckonline.com.

The performance study was conducted by a team from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which collected and analyzed in-service fuel economy maintenance, and other vehicle performance data from 11 hybrid and 11 conventional step vans operated by UPS in Minneapolis.

“During the on-road portion of our study, the hybrid vans demonstrated a 13 to 20 percent higher fuel economy than the conventional vans, and up to a 45 percent improvement in ton-miles-per-gallon” said Michael Lammert, NREL project engineer, adding that this wide range in fuel economy was dependent on the drive cycle.

The data collection began in early 2010, culminating in a 18-month evaluation study using 11 model year (MY) 2010 Freightliner P100 hybrid step delivery vans and 11 MY 2010 Freightliner P100 conventional step delivery vans on both urban and highway routes. The two groups switched assignments during the study to provide a more balanced review of the vehicles performance.

Regarding the Minneapolis facility where the evaluations were conducted, the study reported that:

It was not necessary to modify the Minneapolis facility in any way to implement the hybrid vehicles into the fleet.

Drivers were given training on the operation of the hybrids, but no restrictions or special accommodations were made for their use; however, UPS did assign the hybrid vans to urban routes rather than rural routes to make the best use of the hybrid drive train.

The hybrid vans featured hybrid propulsion systems, including: 44 kilowatt electric motors, lithium ion batteries, and regenerative brakes that capture energy normally lost during braking to power the electric motor.

In terms of fueling, the Minneapolis facility has on-site fueling, and the vehicles were fueled by the drivers as needed, using an internal fuel card system. The drivers then logged their fueling events on their electronic tablets, and the records were uploaded to a central database.

For fuel performance, the study found that overall the hybrids demonstrated a greater advantage on the more urban, low speed, high stops-per-mile routes, and a lower advantage on the longer highway routes with less dense delivery zones.

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